I promised myself I wouldn’t declare any grand resolutions, or sweeping changes to my habits or lifestyle for the new year and though that may appear to be exactly what I am doing here I assure you this is not nearly so rigid or strict a list.
What I set out here are intentions, hopes, and kind works I want to give to myself on this journey into the new decade. This is what I hope for my future self now knowing that she may come to hope for wholly different things when her time comes. I offer her wisdom knowing that her life is one I am ignorant of and that she will come to possess a knowledge beyond my own through her own experiences.
The only habit change I chose to make for 2020 is to decide mindfully how I want to spend my time by scheduling out my hours from day to day. My hope is to get more done by being consistent, by knowing what to do next, and by not allowing myself to get sucked into avoiding progress by mindlessly scrolling, binge-watching, or conveniently forgetting what kind of life it is I want to lead.
To that same effect I thought is only right to make a list not of things I must do, but of things I would like to do, experience, or accomplish in 2020. The list is flexible. I can and will add, delete, alter, and update it throughout 2020 as I complete items or change my mind. If I’m really on top of things each item checked off will have a corresponding post, perhaps each deleted item will too.
I did a lot in 2019 but there were a few weekends that went by and a few opportunities missed simply because I lost track of time and failed to plan ahead. This list is meant to be checked at least weekly and as often as every month. I can edit then and choose one or three things to begin planning for the next month or two to check off. I want to make sure I get the most out of the year and this time next year I will make my final updates, share my thoughts, and post a whole new list.
This year marks the beginning of a new decade and a new journey for all of us together. From here 2020 feels like it’s going to be a big year, or, I want it to be a big year. After getting married, traveling out of state for first time since I was a child, and making so many lovely memories with friends and family, I’m ready to step even further out of my comfort zone.
This year I will:
Create a schedule—for everything, every day!—and stick to it.
Get that promotion at work.
Go camping just the two of us.
Travel to Texas for business and for pleasure
Visit family in California.
Go back to South Carolina.
Hike new trails this summer.
Rent a cabin for Christmas.
Get active. Return to running and basic body weight training.
Pitch one publication a month. Bonus: Collect 100 rejections in 2020.
Read 30 books.
Complete the big home improvement projects.
Complete 7 massive online open courses.
Complete one lesson on Khan Academy and Duolingo daily.
See another play, a ballet, and an opera.
Pay off half of our debt.
Save a little more every month.
Give back a little of what’s left.
Get my driver’s license.
Buy a new car.
Get my library card again.
Start a private gratitude journal.
Start a sketchbook.
Attend a political protest event.
Volunteer for the Democratic Presidential Campaign.
This year I will do my best to give up control, to let others make mistakes, and to forgive people their weakness as I would want them to forgive me mine.
This year I will demand more from my relationships and give more of myself to my relationships too. I’ll make the time and put in the effort and when others make it clear that they wish to move on, I will let them go even if it hurts.
This year I will stop helping every body so damn much. I will stop helping others in ways that only serve to make me feel better rather than the ways they need me to help.
This year I will say “sorry” less often and I will never apologize for being, loving, and needing help, connection, and understanding. I will accept that not everyone will like me or even hold a positive opinion of me and know that that’s okay and not my fault or a reflection of my value as a person.
This year I will honor others. I will uplift people I see being overlooked. I will speak up for others being held down. I will remember that we go further if we go together.
This year I will get involved. I will become informed about my local politics, environment, and development. I will find a way to help.
This year I will not try to be someone new. I’m already the person I need to be, that I wanted to be but never saw before. I only have to let her be free.
2019 left me feeling supported, encouraged, strong, and full of love for myself. I am ready to work hard, to defend my boundaries, time, and needs, and to take my dreams seriously. I’m ready to go beyond a life that though it is beyond anything I used to think I could have or even deserved is far less than what is possible for me.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living.”
Though 2019 was a phenomenal year, looking back, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in myself. Looking back, I see so much good but also see a lot of wasted time. I lost hours playing games on my phone, binge watching TV, an scrolling Facebook or Twitter when I got bored. These where hours I could have been learning something new, reading more books, writing something, making something, doing absolutely anything else that would have been more fulfilling. I spent my year the way I spent my days and there were more days spent living a life I didn’t want than I am comfortable with.
I’m a naturally anxious and avoidant person. It’s not the failure I’m afraid of, or even the success. I don’t like to try because trying means finding out so much about yourself and there are things I worry I will find out that go beyond success and failure. So, I spin my wheels. I do what feels like work but isn’t I talk a lot about what I want and dream about who I will be after. I avoid living the life I say I want by mimicking, by wasting time, by making excuses. I don’t want to do that anymore.
So, I’m taking a moment to acknowledge that going forward the same as I always have in past years will only get me the same results I have ended past years with. I would like to step into a new decade with better prospects. I would like to try something new and perhaps make a little more progress this time around the sun. I’d like to live a little more like I the person I want to be one day.
This year I have a plan, and that plan is just to make a plan. If you think it sounds too simple or small for a new year’s resolution, I would agree. I refuse to refer to it as such. It’s not a big goal, or grand lifestyle change, it’s only a one, tiny habit change. All I have to do is make a daily schedule. I don’t have to plan the year. I don’t have to plan my months or weeks. No, in 2020 I will focus solely on the day to day, the hour to hour, the minute, by minute, by minute. I’ll spend my life the way I want to by making sure each day contains all the life I want to live inside of it.
I’m starting with Google calendar and carving out blocks of time for everything from when I sleep, when I wake up, when I work out, when I get ready for work, when I can eat, read, write, and watch TV. I have time for my wife, my family, my pets and myself scheduled to the minute. I have time for podcasts, for social media, for journalling, for making art, and for simply sitting and thinking for a while. Each event has a reminder set for one hour before so I know what comes next and when it’s time to begin there are notes and to do list items so I know where to focus.
In the evenings I’ll look over my calendar to adjust the days ahead. I can add events, to-do items, and notes. I can add more time, move events around, or delete them entirely. Of course not everything can be included into every day. Some days there may be no reading or writing at all because I’ll be working, traveling, spending time with family, or with friends, or shopping, running errands, or I simply decided to do something else or nothing at all. The point is not to do anything in particular but to make a choice. This time next year when I look back on this one I will know that wherever I ended up, whatever I did or didn’t do and whether I chose to focus or to slip into mindlessness more often than not, I will at least know it was up to me.
I know the exercise won’t be easy. There is so little in life we have a choice about. Even by making a schedule there is really only a small fraction of the day I can call my own. My day job demands a lot from me. My friends and family need me. I have responsibilities and obligations. I have to eat and sleep and will power runs low when the body or the mind grow weary, stressed, or depressed. To make matters more difficult you have to fight every day to wrench what little focus you have left from companies trying to see you something or sell your time to someone else.
The TV is always on, the phone is always buzzing; the ads are always running; the world is always telling you to consume, to post, to scroll. Choosing how to spend your time is not an easy choice to make in that vast current. It is a daily battle between you and yourself, you and the expectations of others, you and the giant machine of capitalism and consumerism.
I know sometimes I will fail miserably but I all ask of myself is not to give up. Day by day means beginning again, and again, and again every morning. With practice I hope to perfect my priorities and hone my focus. I hope to figure out what works and what doesn’t, what I can do and what is expecting too much. I hope to learn too what I thought I wanted to do and what it turns out I really didn’t, what feels right and feels wrong, and, what I really want my life to look like.
This system may sound strict and devoid of surprise or serendipity but the alternative has been to leave myself at the whims, cravings, moods, and flawed memory. The alternative has been lost time and opportunity. The alternative has been a lot of fear and regret.
But with this system there is nothing anymore to fear. I don’t have to count up my successes and failures. I don’t have to do one thing or another. I don’t have to be ashamed, afraid, or avoidant. If I don’t want to do something, then I don’t have to. All I need to do is leave it off the schedule and let it go, but if I want to do it, no matter what it is, accomplishing it can be the easiest thing in the world. All I have to do is block out the time, sit down, and do the thing I told myself I would do. That is all the success I want for 2020.
The beginning of anything is always the longest part and 2019 is no exception. January has taken so long to conclude that the end managed to sneak up and surprise me. I almost forgot about February. I had begun to believe this month might never end and that my time would never run out.
I was lulled into laziness, I admit. Only half of my resolutions survived, though I expected as much and resolved in advance to renew them every month as needed. January ends with plenty of failures but none of the usual disappointment.
I’m choosing, on this last day of the first month of the year, to spend my energy contemplating the next. I’m looking for a new strategy, a new way forward. I’m talking myself up and back from the ledge. Do not give up, the future is still bright and full of possibility. There is so much left to do and plenty of time (though less than you might think) to do it in. There is still plenty of time left to change.
So, I’m moving forward and leaving January, and all it’s half starts and stresses, behind. February, a month of love, of self-love and self-starts, is finally here.
But first, here is what I am…
Writing much more but also less. I’m definitely writing more per day but my writing feels less substantial. I’m ok with this, for now. and hoping that quantity will lead to quality this second go around. I’m happy so far with my accidental commitment to posting daily. I never meant to start but once I did I couldn’t bring myself to break the chain. I’m going to keep it up, but I may tweak the format. I started this vlog with the intention of logging and storing my thoughts in the hopes that later I can pull a project or two out of the archives, so it makes sense to start using it as a sort of “topic journal” with revolving categories I post under in addition to the ordinary life updates.
As for Zen and Pi, it’s coming back I promise. I have so many ideas for it but lack the talent, knowledge, or courage to begin. Please don’t give up on me. It will happen, as soon as I can make it happen.
Making a new journal! Last year I completed a couple of small bookbinding projects one of which was a black Moleskine-style notebook with bright fuschia paper with alternating lined, plain, dot, grid, triangle, and hexagon ruling. Well, that journal is finally just about filled up and I’m ready to take what I learned from the last project and make a brand new one. I’m still planning and gathering supplies, so I’ve purchased a proper Moleskine to use until the new and improved DIY one is finished.
Planning the wedding, still. Progress has been made but we’re are in a serious time crunch now. I’m still excited for the big day, but it’s taking so long to plan that the magic has somewhat worn off. After the price tag shock, the hard choices about your guest list, and all the compromises you make on your vision for the day you begin to feel rather disillusioned. Soon, very soon, you are more stressed than excited and nothing you do feels like it’s for you anymore. I know I’ll feel differently when the big day comes, but right now I’m looking forward to it less and less.
Anticipating a very busy, and very exciting February. I can’t tell you all of the details yet but looking at my February calendar I get the feeling I’ll start climbing out of this winter depression I’ve been in since the New Year’s in no time. I’m going to get out with friends. I’m going to see the ballet. I’m going to take a trip. I’m going to enjoy some good food, and celebrate love, love, love!
Reading a lot! I finished six books in January, a new record for me. I’m currently on The Collected Poems of Emily Dickenson. I started a few days ago and I can already tell this one is going to take me a good long while. Her poems are short but I cannot read through them quickly. No, I’ve already been obsessively researching each and every poem and writing lengthy notes in the margins. So far, I’ve gotten through 12 poems out of…146. Which is why I am also reading Candide by the philosopher Voltaire. I needed a quick book to get through to keep my reading goals to track.
WatchingTrue Detective on HBO which has returned to the formula of their first season success, and Shameless on Showtime which is spiraling out of control as usual. I’m also watching a lot of mindless TV while I wait for the Spring premiers. I’m watching shows I’m barely even entertained by just to have something on. I watch them because I’m bored but I’m planning on watching a lot less for a while. All that boredom should be put to good use, don’t you think?
Feeling stressed and depressed, my usual state. It’s strange the way that happiness and hope can coexist quite comfortably alongside anxiety, frustration, and grief. I’m happy, but I’m sad a lot of the time too. I’m beyond tired and longing for something. A change I guess, but one I get to make on my terms. I want to finally start living a life that looks little more like the dreams in my head. I want to have some control and I want to be excited again.
Fearing our great collective uncertain future. More and more I have had to turn off and tune out the news, Every time things seem like they couldn’t get worse they do and these very big bad things begin to affect the very small and personal. The government shutdown, the shootings, climate change, Brexit, Venezuela, and the unofficial start to the 2020 Presidential election have me on edge and feeling angry, defenseless, and hopeless. I’m afraid that we are really seeing the beginning of the end of an era for America.
Reflecting on my resolutions, the ways I have failed and the ways I’d like to try again. There have been a few successes. I didn’t have one sip of alcohol all month and I cut my sugar intake drastically. I posted here every single night. I read 6 books toward my 30 book goal for the year. I did a lot but I didn’t start working out. I failed to write anything outside of this blog. I didn’t start any free courses, and I didn’t start drawing in my art journal. I’m not disappointed though. I know I have a lot of things I want to do and only so many hours in a day. But I do want to do more and that takes looking at what is working, what isn’t working, and finding creative ways to change.
Needing courage, always courage. The courage to look foolish. The courage to learn. The courage to fail and the courage to stand up to myself most of all. I’m distracted and tired, but I’m also lying to myself. I know deep down it’s all just a coping mechanism to avoid the things I am afraid of. I need the courage to tell myself to focus, to write, even when there is nothing to say. The words will come if I am strong and brave, I have to believe that.
Learning Spanish, still, and getting better and better all the time. I cannot sing the praises of the Duolingo app loud or long enough. I’ve been using it for a couple of years now and while I don’t expect to become fluent from a free phone app, I have noticed that I am grasping the basics well and retaining and recalling more and more words. I’m hoping to attempt a short book in Spanish by the end of the year.
Hating the taboo of hate. I’ve been thinking a lot about people’s reaction to my hatred of things, ideas, values, certain norms and structures of society, events, and people. I’m told that hatred is too strong of an emotion. The word shocks and disgusts. Hatred, it seems, is no longer an acceptable feeling and has become a forbidden word. People tell me that they “do not hate anyone or anything”. They tell me I should not, could not, hate anyone or anything either. I may dislike. I may disapprove. I may not understand, but I may not, apparently, hate. I’m not here to encourage hate. I only know that I feel it, naturally, and I am not about to dismiss or deny it on the word of others.
Loving a whole lot of little things. When a lot of very big things—both worldly and personally—start going wrong we can become overwhelmed. We can become blinded by our stress, and anxiety, and grief and we can forget that there is happiness and good all around us too. But if you take a moment and do the math you may find that all those very little good things equal or outweigh all that very big bad.
For example, I love the way my friends ask me every day how I am. I love that I get to work with kids who always make me smile even when I don’t want to. I love the blonde vanilla latte at Starbucks, books that make me cry, perfectly ripe pears, and eating at least one vegetarian meal every week. I love how happy my dog is to see me when I get home and the way my cat meows and taps me politely to ask for pets. I love phone calls from my mom, my little sister asking me for advice, and the way my brother’s baby looks just like him. I love cooking dinner with my girlfriend at the end of the day, and how after all this time we still stay up too late because there is so much we want to say. I love how lucky I am, how rich I have become in all the ways a person can love. I love my life. I love how suddenly the big bad things don’t seem so big or bad.
Hoping that we, as a country, as the United States of America, can continue to weather this President and his ignorant and divisive rhetoric. I hope that everyone out there is coping well and that we can all just hang on a little longer. We’ve passed the halfway point and we’ve elected enough Democrats that there is some small check on his power. Not as much as I’d like, but we’re in a better place than we were a year ago and in two years I hope we’ll be in a better place, a place built on truth and compassion.
So, yeah, all in all, this January was a good beginning. I don’t want to think of the month as an isolated time frame that has begun and ended but rather a part of something much larger and in that light, I can let it go with satisfaction. I can move past all the “what if’s” to “what now”?
But what about you? How are your resolutions holding up? How is your city —and your mental state—faring through the cold? Where will you go from here while there is still so much time left to change?
Let me know in the comments.
“January. It was all things. And it was one thing, like a solid door. Its cold sealed the city in a gray capsule. January was moments, and January was a year. January rained the moments down, and froze them in her memory: […] Every human action seemed to yield a magic. January was a two-faced month, jangling like jester’s bells, crackling like snow crust, pure as any beginning, grim as an old man, mysteriously familiar yet unknown, like a word one can almost but not quite define.”
Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday and welcome. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.
I apologize for my lateness but I’m feeling a little under the weather today. I woke up with a pounding headache and unexplained nausea. So, I made some ginger tea, took a dose of ibuprofen, and put myself back to bed for the rest of the morning. I woke up the second time feeling much better, but not quite 100%. I have no appetite and there is still pressure in my head.
I’m a little reluctant on the coffee and worried it’ll make me feel worse but I know a headache of another kind will come on if I don’t have a cup or two. Caffiene withdrawl is nothing nice.
So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. I’m using the Moka pot and experimenting with using half blond and half medium roast for something a with a little more caffeine that’s a little richer in flavor. Let’s talk about last week.
“The worst coffee I had ever tasted, but it was hot. I drank three cups and sat there an hour, until I was completely dry.”
Charles Bukowski, Post Office
If we were having coffee I would tell you that our first week back to work was very long and quite stressful, and we only had to be there for four days, not five.
All around me there were talks of budget overages, overtime cuts, and management shake-ups, all while we deal with a continued staff shortage. I did my best to avoid the circles of gossip and negativity. I did my best maintain perspective. I reminded myself that these problems were well above my pay grade and that as long as I showed up, ready to work and show these kids positivity and compassion, I was doing all that I could and all that was being asked of me.
I’m proud of myself for getting back to my morning routine so well…mostly. I wish I had stuck to my usual sleep schedule while I was on break so it wouldn’t have been so hard, but I managed to wake up on time every day and to make it to work on time despite the sudden change. I’m still struggling to go to bed on time, though, but it’s getting better.
If we were having coffee I would tell you that while it wasn’t a particularly good writing week, it was definitely a good reading week.
I am very close to finishing The Iliad and I love it more and more the more I read. It’s so sad, so full of death, and pain, and grief but being a good book doesn’t mean being a happy story. I feel all that pain and grief, and fear and bloodlust myself and that is what makes it so good. This week I was even brought to tears while reading and I don’t know exactly how any other book in the future will make me feel this much again.
At the same time, I’m ready to move on from Troy and the Greeks and read something new. I have about half of On the Genealogy of Morals by Nietzsche to get through and Emily Dickenson’s poems have been waiting patiently for months on my nightstand next to The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. Today my girlfriend brought home The Alchemist to cheer me up and I’m two more Saga volumes behind!
If we were having coffee I would tell you that Dry January is getting easier and easier every day. I don’t feel so bummed out by not drinking and my first thought when I come home from work is no longer on a glass of wine or bottle of hard cider. It’s getting easier to handle bad days and to imagine having fun and being social without alcohol.
I’m a little hurt that my friends have postponed most of our get-togethers until February. What if I decide to continue not drinking through February and beyond too? It seems that I don’t just have to change my own thinking around alcohol, but drag my friends along too.
This weekend I was particularly worried about sobriety cutting into my fun after I got tickets to an “M. Night Shyamalan-athon” at our favorite movie theater. We were going to be sitting through three movies—Unbreakable, Split, and his latest to round out the trilogy, Glass. We usually drink at these kinds of film events and sitting through three movies without a celebratory cocktail sounded like a real drag.
We did good though! and we had a lot of fun. I was a little jealous watching the table next to me order round after round of mimosas and beers so I ordered a peach Italian soda and a Mexican milkshake to feel a little fancy. We had a great time and didn’t go home disappointed in ourselves.
If we were having coffee I would tell you that the movie marathon was absolutely amazing!
Unbreakable has always been one of our favorites and watching Split again but this time on the big screen made me realize that it was also quite the masterpiece. Glass brought me to tears and it ended the only way it could have.
What I mean is, if these characters belong to some other writer and director beside M. Night Shyamalan, then maybe it could have been different, but these characters are part of his universe and story and if you have seen many of his movies you will understand that this is the way the story has to be told.
The reviews were harsh, but I am encouraging everyone to ignore them, see the film, and let it sit with you before you make up your mind.
If we were having coffee I would tell you that the sun has sunk below the horizon and the smell of delicious eggplant parmesan coming from the kitchen let me know it’s time to get going.
I hope that you had a good week and that the new year continues to find you well. I hope that your resolutions are still going strong. If they aren’t, I hope you know they were not failures. You simply weren’t ready and the time simply wasn’t right. I hope you know you can start again.
Until next time.
Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli.
Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday and welcome. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.
We’re starting a little late today, I’ve been anxious to finish our living room project and this morning we find ourselves in the final stretch. I’ve been working in there all morning and simply lost track of time. There is still so much to do but my body is protesting and I feel my energy levels (and willpower) waning. I think some good coffee and conversation are just what I need to get me motivated again.
So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. The weather has been gorgeous lately and we’ve got all the windows open and plenty of sunshine to warm the spirit. I forgot to start the cold brew last night but I’ve got the hang of my little Moka pot now and have plenty of strong hot coffee to go around. Let’s talk about last week!
“Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords.”
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that New Year’s Eve wasn’t spent quite as we had planned.
We had planned to attend a party at a friend’s house but they were having plumbing issues and the more we thought about going out the more we realized we wanted to stay in, just the two of us. So, I made spaghetti carbonara for dinner and grilled some pears on the stovetop for dessert. We drank lots of wine and later champagne. We rang in the new year cuddled up on the couch and were in bed by 12:10 AM new year’s day.
It’s wasn’t wild or glamorous but it felt right to start a new year off in the place where I am always the happiest.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the first week of 2019 has been…no different from the last of 2018. What I mean is, I haven’t changed. Most of the resolutions I made had to be put on hold. I haven’t gotten downstairs to set up my little gym so I can start working out, and I haven’t had hardly any time for reading or writing either.
I’m trying not to be so hard on myself for not hitting the ground running on my other resolutions this year. It’s probably best not to overwhelm myself and as long as I start sometimes soon, late is better than not at all.
The only thing I have been able to change is how present I am. I’m doing my best to focus as much as possible on what it is I want to be doing, or what I should be doing. I’m practicing making my own choices (even if I sometimes make the wrong one) about how to spend my time rather than leaving it up to other people, apps, or my subconscious. I’m trying to use my time up rather than go on letting it slip away from me.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my last week of winter break has not been as relaxing as the first but it was much more productive, though not in all the ways I had hoped.
If you’ve been following along with my journal excerpt posts, you know my girlfriend and I have been working hard this week to revamp our living room space. We are both chronic procrastinators and after eight years in this house we considered a “fixer-upper” when we first bought it, very little fixing up has been going on.
This year we committed to one new year’s resolution together. We want our house to look good enough to host the 2019 holidays at our place. That means new paint everywhere, new trim, and major updates to our bathroom and kitchen before the end of November.
Our living room has a 19-foot wall on one side, ugly popcorn ceiling, and a lot of drywall damage. It is by far the hardest room to paint. Part of me wishes we’d chosen an easier project for the break but, as chronic procrastinators, maybe it was best to start with the harder project first to set the right tone for 2019.
One room down, four more and a whole basement to go. Whew!
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that now that our big home improvement project is done the realization that we have less than two short days before we have to return to work is slowly sinking in. I honestly haven’t given work a second thought in over two weeks and it’s possible I have forgotten how to do my job entirely.
I figure that’s a good thing, though. It means I took a proper mental break and can, hopefully, return with renewed clarity and enthusiasm. I miss my kids terribly and even some of my coworkers too. I miss having a schedule most of all.
These past two weeks have taught me that without concrete obligations to get me out of bed or force me to go into bed at a decent time every night, I am incapable regulating my own sleeping routine. I stay up past midnight and sleep in until nearly 10 every morning. I was sluggish, grouchy, and guilt-ridden throughout the days over all the missed productivity. I know that I am at my best when I’m early to bed and early to rise so, why do I keep doing to myself?
I guess there’s just something about the late night that I love too.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the first week of Dry January was a long one. I’m not sure if I’m seeing any benefits yet. I don’t feel that I am sleeping better or that I have more energy and I am certainly not losing any weight. Then again, I still have other bad dietary habits and those only seem to be getting worse.
My girlfriend and I have been trying to cut a back on our sugar intake too by at least avoiding all cakes, cookies, pies, and candies and refraining from adding any sweeteners to drinks like coffee and tea. It’s going well but we have to make sure not to skip any meals or eat too late or else the cravings start.
One unforeseen issue is that at the end of the day we want something that feels like a reward or an indulgence. We’d been having a glass of wine or a hard cider, but now we aren’t drinking. So, then we crave sweets, which are now a no-no too. So, then we start craving rich, salty, cheesy, fried foods. We crave burgers and fries, pizzas, tacos, and hot wings.
Alcohol has been easy to quit, and sugar hasn’t been too hard to let go of either. It turns out the addiction I have isn’t to either but to the comfort and the relaxing effect that the indulgences induce and I don’t have the first clue how to curb that.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the long shadows cast from the low west window light, and the good smells coming from the kitchen are reminding me that it’s getting late and there is still a lot to do before dinner is done. I’d better get going if I want to have any hope of an early night tonight.
I hope that you had a wonderful New Year’s celebration and that the first week of 2019 treated you well. I hope you aren’t feeling too much pressure to be a whole new you and that your new year’s resolutions are still going strong.
Until next time.
Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli.
I don’t feel like the fact that a new year has begun has fully sunk in for me yet. Today doesn’t feel much different from yesterday and yesterday didn’t feel much different from December 31st, 2018. I guess all the hype and high expectation is an illusion. The reality is much more gradual. It will be many months before 2019 decides out what kind of year it wants to be.
Today we finished spackling the holes and sanding all the walls. It took a long time and took a lot out of us too, but much as I hated every minute of the work I have to say, I’m very proud of the progress we made on our little living room revamp today. The hardest parts are over now and tomorrow promises to be easier on the body and, hopefully, leave a lot more time for writing and resolutions.
Day 2 of Dry January was surprisingly easy considering a nice cold hard cider was just what I needed after all that work and would have gone perfectly with the hot wings we ordered for dinner. But I was strong and substituted a sweet iced tea and I’m opting for ginger tea again before bed.
Don’t get caught up in the day to day of content creation. This year, make those big writerly dreams—the ones that will take months or even years to complete—your top priority. Keep a close eye on the bigger picture. Progress there is harder to measure there but give it time, slowly, slowly…
Reading is not simply a hobby or means to pass the time and you must stop treating it as such. Reading is part of who you are. You grew through it and saw so much of this world and others through it too. Pick up your old friend again. Grow and see again.
Resolutions need not be permanent. What you want January 1st may not be the same as what you will want on July 1st. Reflect and adjust as needed. It’s okay! Change is not the same as failure and working toward what you used to want will not bring fulfillment or a sense of accomplishment.
You are not weak, but you are certainly vulnerable. These two are not the same and neither is inherently bad. You feel deeply, and hurt easily, but you are strong. This is what is good in you and recognizing it, embracing it, will only make you better. Love you.
When facing your fears, try to be understanding and compassionate with yourself. Being brave takes more than strength, it takes love and knowing yourself. It is yourself you have to fight, after all, and it is yourself who you must get through this, whole.
Reach out to people, not with likes and follows, but with phone calls, letters, and time spent together. Tell your friends you love them, let your family know how much you need them. You are made of the people around you and you only increase yourself when you strengthen those connections.
Last year was disappointing in many ways, but all years are. You just have to decide, 365 days from now, what disappointments you will be able to live with and which ones you won’t. You have to decide every day—every minute even!—because how you spend every minute of every day is how you will spend your year. Beware: making no choice (or leaving the choice to others or the apps on your phone) is the same as choosing.
P.S. I do have many more specific goals and resolutions for 2019, but I think of them simply as “to-do” items, small steps, subject to change as I change. This list is what is important. This list is the “how” not matter the “what”.
Decembers are strange months. They force us—through our grieving over the last year, our anticipation and expectation for the next, and the celebration of the present with good food, family, and friends—to live fully in all aspects of our lives. The past, the present, and the future. Decembers can be exhausting, sad, and overwhelming, but they can also be joyful, hopeful, and so very warm. It all depends on what this year’s past, the present, and the future feel like to you.
I’ve had many Decembers full of loathing, curmudgeonry, and gloom because, well, the holidays were never happy times for me. They were the time of year that pretending to be merry and bright only brought out the worst in my family. This year felt different. This December was a warm one. I felt loved, and I allowed myself to be loving too. Time certainly heals and I have come far enough from those sad Christmases I used to know to a place where I can give myself over fully to the season.
But now it’s come to an end. Now is the time to let go of Christmas and to think of the New Year. Now is the time to muster up the best of ourselves. Now is the time—fueled by all that good food and deep love—to become who we’d like to think we are.
But first, here is what I am…
Writing slowly but steadily, on big projects and small. I had high hopes of starting a daily blogging habit for the new year but upon further reflection and introspection, daily blogging just isn’t for me, yet. Turns out I just don’t have a ton of energy to go around and focusing on blogging so much means less time and energy for my dream projects. Not only that, but failing to post daily makes me feel like, well, a failure, and being so filled with disappointed makes it impossible for me to write anything at all. So, I’m writing here, and for Zen and Pi, and I’m even resurrecting my newsletter too! but I’m only committing to one piece per online space per week for now and looking forward to creating and sharing more meaningful work with you soon.
Making promises. I promise to spend less time in from of the TV and more time in my “creativity room”. I promise to keep a list of dreams and projects in front of me rather than my Twitter timeline. I promise that whenever I feel bored, I won’t let my first instinct be to pick up my phone. I promise to read a book instead. I promise to write every day. I promise to stop apologizing for my weaknesses and to embrace my vulnerability. I promise to keep on doing what I have been doing but to use the lessons I have learned to do better.
Planning everything. I have been experimenting with using Trello to keep track of tasks for all my big projects and my blogs. I have a list for each project and lists titled “this year”, “this month”, “this week”, “today”, and one for “every day”. I’ve been moving items (or cards) from their project lists into the “time frame” lists once I feel I’m ready to begin. Each card can have a description, a checklist, attachments, and I can add comments and links underneath too. I love that I can keep both short-term and long-term to-do lists in front of me without getting confused or overwhelmed and it’s easy to shuffle them around as needed.
Anticipating a “Dry January”. For those who’ve never heard the term, Dry January is a movement where people pledge not drink any alcohol for the first month of the year. I don’t consider my relationship with alcohol to be problematic per se, but the medication I am on for my ulcerative colitis is affecting my liver and cutting out my daily drink proved harder than I thought it would be. A hard cider or a glass of red wine can be a real comfort at the end of a long day but I need to take care of myself and learn to decompress in new ways. I look forward to the money saved and maybe losing a few pounds too.
ReadingThe Iliad, still. I knew I would be reading it to the end of the year but with the holidays and this weird period of laziness and listlessness between Christmas time and the new year I haven’t been able to finish the book. That’s ok though. I’ll pick it back up as soon as I feel ready. I’ve set new reading goals for the year too, 30 books once again. I am determined to make 2019 the first year I meet this goal by making reading a priority, something I must do, every day.
Watching old episodes of Veep on HBO while I wait for most of my usual shows to come back between now and April. Before that, I was watching Killing Eve on Amazon Video and I cannot recommend it enough. I have been a fan of Sandra Oh since her days on Grey’s Anatomy (another show I anxiously awaiting both the return and the end of). I saw Bird Box on Netflix; it was good but not great, and I finally got around to Isle of Dogs which was exactly the work of art I knew it would be.
Feeling tired. December was, as all Decembers are, exhausting. I feel bad for having been so lazy this past week off from work but it felt so good that I know I needed it, mentally as well as physically. I regret nothing but I do resolve to get off my ass starting today.
Fearing a new year that will be just like the last. I’m afraid that I won’t get anything done at all and that I will fail all the challenges I start and the goals I’ve set. I’m afraid 365 days from now I will be sitting at this same desk writing this same post saying all the same things about how I failed, but it’s okay, I have a plan for 2020 and this time I’m going to get it right! I’m afraid that I am not capable of the work I need to do or worthy of the successes I hope to achieve.
Reflecting on 2018 and what it meant to me. This year I completed a Year Compass booklet for the first time and it really helped me get over the initial disappointment I felt over all the things I didn’t get done. I realized that while 2018 wasn’t productive in all the ways I had hoped it would be; it was still an amazing year. Looking back, I had a year full of warmth and love, friendship, family, and fun and I’m pretty proud of that.
Needing willpower like I have never had before. Willpower is the word I chose for 2019. I wrote it in my Year Compass under the coming year and underneath I wrote: “productivity is planning for the future weaker, stupider you”. I was thinking of a Tumblr post from Stowe Boyd, “Will Power Is A Myth, So Take The Damn Nap“. I’m asking for the strength to do the work, or do what needs to be done now so I can pick the work back up again later.
LearningClassical Sociological Theory! I’ve been looking for some free online courses to take for a while now and this was one that looked good. I’m on a mission to learn how to practice and I think taking a structured course would help me cultivate a habit of daily discipline and fuel my writing with new information and perspectives! Win, win and all for free right? I haven’t enrolled just yet (I’m implementing new habits in a more staggered fashion for 2019 rather than all at once) but by February I hope to start.
Loving this past year. I know it was a horrible year politically here in America and in many places around the world because of America but personally, in my own little suburban bubble, it was a pretty good year. That isn’t to say I didn’t have my ups and downs, or that the bigger picture not affected me but what I did have was an amazing support system and what I did was take breaks as needed from said bigger picture. I know that is a privilege many don’t have, and I am grateful that I do.
Hating that this past year was so politically ugly and divisive. I hate how much we hurt one another out of fear and of pride. I hate how the unknown makes us so cruel and how easily we justify suffering and death. From the growing threat to immigrants, the frequency of mass shootings, the number of animals that went extinct, and the abandonment of our responsibility to the global climate crisis, 2018 was the year that humanity broke my heart and I hate that I have no expectation that 2019 will mend it.
Hoping, on this last day of 2018, that all of us all around the world can find the courage to forgive and begin again. I hope that we can start a new year with a little less of the past holding us back or holding us apart. I hope the new year can begin with more clarity and that 2019 brings out more of what is good in us. I hope you all have a safe night and a productive start—in whatever way is meaningful to you—to your brand new year.
So, yeah, all in all, December was beautiful. It was by far the best December I’ve ever had, emotionally anyway. I look forward to ringing in the new year with my fiance, in our home, while enjoying good food, getting some writing in, and completing a few projects in the house. It’s just the tone I want to set.
But what about you? How did December treat you? How did 2018 treat you? Did you have a wonderful Christmas and will you ring in 2019 quietly with close friends and family, or will you attend a grand gathering somewhere and meet it with flare?
Let me know in the comments.
“The first of December was a wintry day…and the year seemed getting ready for its death.”